|It may save lives so it's ethical and hence why we call it "Ethical Torture"|
Heart disease is only the second leading cause of death of Canadians. She won't be satisfied until it surpasses cancer and Aglukkaq doesn't seem to care that heart disease is 1.5 times higher within the Inuit community.
But no, this is about Vic Toews and the decision by the Harper Government™ that CSIS may use intelligence derived from torture.
Sure, he muttered all the traditional arguments that this would be only in 'exceptional circumstances' and that we can't ignore threats when 'Canadian lives and property are at stake'. This all seems really sensible and reasonable until you realize that the scenarios from which this can be beneficial don't exist but the dangers of relying on information derived from torture are very real.
Much of the parliamentarians have argued against this policy decision based on its legality. I'm going to attempt to explain the philosophy behind it.
To begin, I'd point everyone to the Creekside blog and the very necessary point that torture has never proven to yield any intelligence that has protected America from a terrorist attack. But I'll take a different angle on the matter and assume that intelligence can be gleaned from it.
The reason governments shouldn't rely on information derived from torture because it is ipso facto fruit of a poisonous tree.
That is to say, the tree is tainted and consequently the fruit is tainted as well. We know torture to be evil so the results that originate from it are just as toxic. If Canada accepts information derived from torture, it loses its credibility if it were to condemn the practice. And if you can't condemn torture without everyone charging you with hypocrisy, any claim of supporting human rights is tainted. It can only be said that you support human rights when it suits you. You simply can't condemn a regime that tortures people if, as a country, you find some of the information that other torturers provide as valuable.
Canada is now saying torture is not OK unless it yields good results. The only way to find out if the results are "worth it" is by torturing those you believe possess key information. This utilitarian philosophy is used in justifying some of the worst atrocities known to man. In its inception, I'm sure the Khmer Rouge torture of suspected spies was borne out of noble intentions. They were trying to root out the subversive elements within society that could potentially create violence. Seems reasonable enough, no?
However, if allied countries were to torture people, we'd be forced to ignore it. We can't condemn something when we tacitly approve of its results. And if other countries take Canada's example and look the other way when regimes are committing acts of torture, there will be no repercussions for those governments; no consequences could be imposed on them.
After that comes the utilitarian argument pointing out that if this intelligence will be used to save 500 Canadian lives, will it then be ignored when it will save only 5 lives? How come? Why only 'exceptional circumstances'? If the information is useful to save Canadian lives, why are we using it so sparingly? After all, Dick Cheney notes that 'enhanced interrogation techniques' are "safe, legal and effective".
The next logical step is: why isn't Canada using these methods to protect its citizens instead of depending on other regimes to protect us? If we gladly accept the "benefits", why continue with the charade suggesting that we aren't complicit in all of this and simply expand the practice domestically?
This logic leads down a slippery slope and forces you to take a stand: you do not eat fruits of a poisonous tree. But with the Harper Government™, it seems Canada is willing to look the other way when it comes to torture.
So much for John Baird's affirmation of "no more going along to get along."